To the class of 2016, welcome. To all of Oregon State’s sophomores, juniors, seniors and super seniors, welcome back. Whether you’re just starting out here or returning for the second, third or fourth time, Oregon State has new experiences, helpful resources and valuable opportunities to offer you this year.

As a new student, it can be overwhelming to find out about Oregon State’s more than 350 student organizations, daily activities and countless ways to learn, have fun and meet people. As a returning student, it’s easy to let some of those opportunities you were excited about when you first arrived here slide by in the rush of keeping up with studies, friends and hobbies. But both new and continuing students can take advantage of all that Oregon State has to offer with a little exploring. Here’s how:

Learn from the experts

OSU Tour guideTo get the most out of Oregon State University, take some advice from the people who know it best, and share their knowledge about campus on a daily basis. Oregon State tour guides introduce visitors from around the country to the campus, communicating volumes of knowledge about resources, buildings and opportunities on campus with curious students and their parents.

Bahar Ehfad, a senior studying psychology with a minor in communications, has been giving tours since June 2011. And that experience has given her a new way of looking at the campus — both as a tour guide and as a student.

“When I walk through campus I see the name of the building, but then it’s like X-ray vision for everything that’s in the building too, because that’s what I’ve learned,” Ehfad says. “When I see Kidder Hall I almost immediately think College of Science, language departments, Math Learning Center, language tutors. I see everything with the building,”

Ehfad uses her X-ray vision to give prospective students as much useful information as possible, relating a building to a personal experience she had there, then describing the resources that can be found there. But she has also used that knowledge to improve her own experience at Oregon State.

“The year after I became a tour guide was the year that I utilized everything on campus,” Ehfad says. I went to the Computer Help Desk and asked for help with my laptop, I went to the Math Learning Center and asked for help on my statistics homework. After becoming a tour guide, and learning about everything on campus, I started using it all. It was like, ‘I can’t believe that I have this resource and I haven’t used it yet.’”

It’s never too late to take your first tour, or just tag along for a refresher. Guided tours leave Monday through Friday at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. most days throughout the year, so check in with the Visitor Center.

Be your own tour guide

But you don’t have to go on an official campus tour yourself, or even befriend a tour guide to discover more about Oregon State — though both would be beneficial. Instead, act as your own tour guide by observing more closely, asking questions and following up on events, resources and opportunities.

Once the first few weeks of school have passed — when getting to class and finding dinner are no longer difficult — take the time to enrich your experience at Oregon State. Challenge yourself to learn something new about campus, or to utilize a resource you just found out about, or have been meaning to follow up on.

“I think the best way to learn about this campus to learn about this campus and figure out what you want to utilize when you’re a student here is to just to walk around and talk to people,” Ehfad says. “So just tell yourself, ‘I am about to give myself a tour of Oregon State.’ and just start at the library.”

Ehfad recommends taking friends along, or even channeling an Oregon State tour guide by donning an orange polo. Whether you’ve been at Oregon State for three weeks or three years, she says there’s always something new to learn.

“I could be giving tours for the next six years and I’d still be finding things out,” Ehfad says. “I learned today that we have subject librarians who only work in one subject, and I thought I knew everything about the library.”

Valley Library

Make a list

Once you’ve learned about a host of resources you’d never heard of before, decide how you’ll put that knowledge to use. Whatever point you are at in your education at Oregon State, new opportunities can help you get more out of the time you have left here — both academically and recreationally.

“There’s so much to do here,” Ehfad says. “We have all the resources here for students to become the best they can possibly be. I think the best way to enjoy and take in the most of the school is to make yourself a list of what you want to do and when you’re going to get it done before you’re out of here.”

Ehfad calls it her Oregon State bucket list. Call it your bucket list, or even your cap and gown list. Before you don a black cap and gown and walk across the stage in Reser Stadium to receive your diploma, what do you want to do? For Ehfad, the list includes jumping on the trampolines at Gladys Valley Gymnastics Center, getting a free massage at Dixon Recreation Center, renting a study room with whiteboard walls at the Valley Library and shooting at the Pistol Club’s indoor firing range.

Get involved

Students playing volleyball outside of DixonIf you’re a first-year student or a sophomore, maybe your goals are big: study abroad in Madrid, earn a double degree or walk on to the Oregon State football team. Upperclassmen might have the same goals, or maybe just some odds and ends to finish up, like taking a unique class, ordering a Panini from Bing’s Café or playing beach volleyball at Dixon Recreation Center.

Either way, take advantage of this campus and the opportunities and resources Oregon State offers while you can. Beyond checking off activities available on campus, make an effort to get involved with some of Oregon State’s engaging programs.

If you’re interested in working with children, get started right away with KidSpirit or Individualized Movement and Physical Activity for Children Today (IMPACT), two programs that put students to work interacting with kids. Those who want to pursue leadership positions in the future can begin building experience with the Associated Students of Oregon State University or the Memorial Union Program Council. Or learn more about how to get involved in student organizations, campus events and other initiatives students can contribute to through Student Leadership and Involvement.

As Ehfad found, the best way to learn about this campus is to experience it for yourself and then pass that knowledge on to others. Enjoy deciding what that means for you and making it happen, whether that means landing a position as a student researcher in a professional lab or flying through the air in a trampoline harness with friends — or both.